In the Boston Ballet’s new Nutcracker, we settle into our seats and into opulence. The ballet opens with the dapper Drosselmeier dazzling children with magic in his toy-laden theater. We then move swiftly into a grand Christmas party. Everything is muted—subdued colors, wistful dancing and polite manners save for one energetic dancing bear.
But when the young Clara drifts off to sleep, her mind racing around the princely nutcracker figure she clutches, there is an explosion of color, of vibrancy and of fruitful imagination. In a $2.5 million brand new production, Boston Ballet delivers a breathtaking interpretation of the classic. “It has to have panache and splash,” says Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. “But I really wanted to have it class. So I wanted to sort of give you really big bang and a really classic bang.”
Faced with an aging production literally coming apart at the seams, Nissinen commissioned a new Nutcracker roughly two years ago and tapped opera and ballet designer Robert Perdziola to craft the sets and costumes. The crux of his instructions were simple: make it elegant and don’t make any dancing cupcakes.
So, inspired by centuries-old Eastern European and Russian theater, Perdziola moved the Nutcracker’s setting back 20 years to Germany of the 1820s and the Empire style so frequently exemplified by Jane Austen. “It just shows the elegance and the line [of the dancers] a little bit better,” Nissinen says. “ I happen to be a big fan of the era and I think the more bigger and puffier costumes in the first act, it’s a little harder to move in them.”
Some 182 costumes, 200,000+ jewels and 2,000 yards of tulle later, the company has unveiled a production that sparkles with visual triumph. It's one that seamlessly evokes the grandeur of the Boston Opera House and makes Clara’s nighttime dreams of Sugar Plum Fairies completely transformative. In other words, The Nutcracker has never looked so gorgeous.